Area law enforcement officers rode the rails Tuesday, June 24, 2014 to write 8 citations for railroad-crossing violations as part of a safety exercise organized by Operation Lifesaver Union Pacific C.A.R.E. (Crossing Accident Reduction Education). Participating in this event was St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, Opelousas Police Department and Union Pacific Railroad Police.
As the 2,000-horsepower Union Pacific locomotive lumbered along its tracks, some drivers tried to beat the train. They didn’t realize police officers were waiting. A lookout officer was inside the locomotive, looking for drivers who crossed the tracks while railroad crossing lights were still active, or who tried to navigate around the crossing gates.
Major Eddie Thibodeaux with the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office said, “We started conducting this exercise about eight years ago and we have seen a significant drop in citations issued. Years ago, we would write well over 50 citations in one day. Now, 8 years later, we are writing less than 10. This means drivers are more cautious of the railroad crossings.”
“There are thousands of people killed every year because they tried to beat the train, or just weren’t paying attention. Any wreck or accident that takes place at a crossing is preventable,” Thibodeaux added.